BALTIMORE — These Oakland Athletics, they won’t back down. Not when confronted by an angry opponent, not when they’re dodging inside fastballs and definitely not when trailing late in the game.
Pinch-hitter Stephen Vogt singled in the tiebreaking run in the 11th inning, and the Athletics got home runs from Josh Donaldson and Derek Norris in a 4-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night.
It was the sixth win in seven games for the Athletics, who own the best record in the AL (38-23) and the best road record in the majors (21-11).
In the third inning, Donaldson tagged Manny Machado in the chest near third base for the third out, causing Machado to lose his balance and topple backward. Machado quickly stood up and yelled close-up at Donaldson, apparently questioning the force of the tag, and players from both sides crowded around the duo before Orioles manager Buck Showalter pulled Machado away.
“I just tried to tag the guy. I was walking over there to go pick his helmet up for him, then he jumps up and starts yelling at me,” Donaldson said. “I don’t know what happened on his end, but I’m just trying to do my job and play the game of baseball.”
Machado said: “Right play, he made the right play, but I just didn’t agree on the tag that he made on me and I just had to get up and confront him. You get in the heat of the moment and things start flying.”
That appeared to be the end of it, but with two outs and nobody on in the sixth inning, Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen threw an inside pitch near Donaldson’s chin. After retreating from the batter’s box, Donaldson smiled knowingly. But he expressed anger minutes later, when Chen hit him with another inside fastball.
“I understand them pitching in. That’s fine,” Donaldson said. “It was just on my hand. (Baltimore’s) Nellie Cruz took one on the hand just the other day, and he doesn’t seem too fond of that either.”
In the eighth, though, the A’s trailed 3-2. Pinch-hitter Coco Crisp drew a walk from Darren O’Day, stole second and scored on a two-out single by Yoenis Cespedes.
That led to Oakland’s eighth win this season when trailing after seven innings.
“We don’t give up until that last out is made,” Oakland starter Tommy Milone said. “You see if in the last few games, it seems like we’re always in every game, and we find ways to win.”
John Jaso led off the 11th with a pinch-hit double off Evan Meek (0-2). With one out, Gold Glove shortstop J.J. Hardy botched a grounder, his fourth error in two games. Meek went to third on the play and scored when Vogt hit a liner to left.
Fernando Abad (1-2) worked the 10th and Sean Doolittle got three outs for his eighth save.
The Orioles missed a chance to win it in the 10th when Nick Markakis was thrown out at the plate by Moss on Adam Jones’ one-out single to right. Cruz was then cut down trying to steal home.
“Saw it, felt it, went for it, didn’t work out,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said.
Prior to that, Chen retired 10 straight batters. Chen gave up two runs — both on homers — in 6 1-3 innings.
Milone allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings.
Donaldson put the A’s up 1-0 in the first with his 17th home run, and Norris connected leading off the second.
Baltimore used three straight two-out singles, the last by rookie Jonathan Schoop, to get a run back in the bottom of the second.
Chris Davis tied it in the fourth with an opposite-field drive to left, and Machado homered in the fifth for a 3-2 lead.
NOTES: The Orioles put RHP Miguel Gonzalez (strained right oblique) on the 15-day DL, recalled RHP Tim Berry from Double-A Bowie, purchased the contract of Meek from Triple-A Norfolk and optioned RHP Preston Guilmet to the same club. … Kevin Gausman replaced Gonzalez as Baltimore’s starter vs. Oakland on Saturday. The A’s will call upon right-hander Sonny Gray (6-1, 2.45 ERA). … Former Orioles closer Jim Johnson returned to Baltimore for the first time since being traded during the offseason. “A lot of memories. It’s obviously different going into a different clubhouse. It’s cool,” Johnson said. … Oakland has homered in 14 straight games. … LHP Johan Santana, who hoped to make a comeback with the Orioles, tore his Achilles tendon in extended spring training and is lost for the year.